Look who couldn't come to dinner

By Geraldine Sealey
Published March 10, 2004 3:13PM (EST)

The president's ballyhooed surprise trip to Baghdad on Thanksgiving, widely admired as a cunning political move at the time, just gets more disturbing the more you know about it. A U.S. soldier back from Iraq gave an interview to Intervention Magazine about what went on the day before the president came to town:

"Stationed in the area of the Baghdad Airport at the time of President Bush's Thanksgiving 2003 visit to the troops there, [the soldier] recounts that on the day before the president's visit, the troops were given a questionnaire that asked them whether they 'supported the president.' Those who did not declare their support with sufficient enthusiasm were not permitted to take part in the Thanksgiving meal, and had to make do with MREs (meals ready to eat, referred to by the soldiers as 'meals refused by Ethiopians') in their quarters."

The "pre-screening" of U.S. soldiers was also reported in Stars and Stripes, although the military paper said the soldiers were screened for security reasons. This is also the same dinner, recall, in which Bush proudly raised a too-good-to-be-true "trophy turkey" for his photo-op.

Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at Salon.com.

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